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First Homebuilt PC (Advice Please)

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April 3, 2007 6:10:12 PM

So... after years of helping friends and relatives build PC's, working on them at different jobs, and owning a couple of pre-built ones... I've decided to build my own. I'm going to say this now, because I've seen the issue come up in alot of articles... I don't care about encoding, compressing, or burning. The only things I want my computer to do is to play video games. I have a laptop that I can burn, compress, encode or do whatever else on.

My "target" game list is so: Oblivion, Titan Quest, Age of Empires 3, WoW, City of Heroes, Half-life 2 (Never played, but everyone says it's fun), and perhaps that new first person Might and Magic game.

Please offer any advice or suggestions that you think would be helpful (let's also try to keep them constructive). My goal here is to stay under 1000 for sure, and if at all possible under 900. I've been thinking about overclocking, but am not sure if this current set up will handle it... advice on changes to be made regarding that would be appreciated as well.

Here's my wishlist, copied/pasted from NewEgg:


Update APEVIA X-Dreamer II ATXB4KLW-BK Black Steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case 420W Power Supply - Retail
Model #: ATXB4KLW-BK
Item #: N82E16811144026

Return Policy: Standard Return Policy

In Stock
Mail-in Rebate
$79.99 -$20.00 Instant $59.99

Update GIGABYTE GA-965P-S3 LGA 775 Intel P965 Express ATX Intel Motherboard - Retail
Model #: GA-965P-S3
Item #: N82E16813128017

Return Policy: Standard Return Policy

In Stock
$114.99 -$10.00 Instant $104.99

Update XFX PVT73GUGF3 GeForce 7600GT 256MB GDDR3 PCI Express x16 Video Card - Retail
Model #: PVT73GUGF3
Item #: N82E16814150185

Return Policy: Standard Return Policy

In Stock
Mail-in Rebate
$119.99 $119.99

Update Intel Core 2 Duo E4300 Allendale 1.8GHz LGA 775 Processor Model BX80557E4300 - Retail
Model #: BX80557E4300
Item #: N82E16819115013

Return Policy: Processors (CPUs) Return Policy

In Stock
$169.00 $169.00

Update CORSAIR XMS2 2GB (2 x 1GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model TWIN2X2048-6400 - Retail
Model #: TWIN2X2048-6400
Item #: N82E16820145590

Return Policy: Standard Return Policy

In Stock
Mail-in Rebate
$167.00 $167.00

Update Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 ST380815AS 80GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive - OEM
Model #: ST380815AS
Item #: N82E16822148231

Return Policy: Limited 30-Day Return Policy

In Stock
$43.99 $43.99

Update Hanns·G JC-199DPB Black 19" 8ms DVI LCD Monitor - Retail
Model #: JC-199DPB
Item #: N82E16824254009

Return Policy: [LCD] Limited Non-Refundable 30-Day Return Policy

In Stock
Mail-in Rebate
$189.99 -$20.00 Instant $169.99

Update LG Black E-IDE/ATAPI DVD-ROM Multi Read Drive Model GDR-8164BK - OEM
Model #: GDR-8164BK
Item #: N82E16827136083

Return Policy: Standard Return Policy

In Stock
$18.99 $18.99
Subtotal: $853.94


Thanks in advance for any advice and suggestions (=

More about : homebuilt advice

April 3, 2007 6:16:05 PM

I dunno about the monitor but everything else is pretty good. I think you can generally get a better overclock with the e6300, provided you've got decent DDR2-800. Speaking of DDR2, there's slightly better and slightly cheaper G.Skill DDR2-800 with 4-4-4-12 timings. Note that there's pretty big Intel price cuts around April 22 if you want to wait for them, the e4300 goes down to $113 I think, and there's a couple new low end Core 2s being introduced.

edit: you might want to consider going up to a 7900GS KO, they're not much more expensive.
April 3, 2007 6:28:24 PM

Quote:
I dunno about the monitor but everything else is pretty good. I think you can generally get a better overclock with the e6300, provided you've got decent DDR2-800. Speaking of DDR2, there's slightly better and slightly cheaper G.Skill DDR2-800 with 4-4-4-12 timings. Note that there's pretty big Intel price cuts around April 22 if you want to wait for them, the e4300 goes down to $113 I think, and there's a couple new low end Core 2s being introduced.

edit: you might want to consider going up to a 7900GS KO, they're not much more expensive.


Hmm, I'm not opposed to waiting to buy this... The monitor is cheap, that's why I like it, but any 15-17" higher quality monitor would be fine for me as well I do believe.

I've heard a couple people mention that G.Skill is good ram, I went with the Corsair because I've always liked them. As for the difference in 4300 to 6300 in the c2d's I've read mixed reviews... basically coming down to how much a person wants to spend... although if like you say the 6300 is better for overclocking, I'll probably end up going with that.

As far as a video card goes I'll take a look at the 7900GS, I've seen a couple people here and there mention ATI.. but it's more and more rare (kind of like people saying "go for amd")

Any other comments and suggestions would be great.
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April 3, 2007 6:37:48 PM

Well I didn't mean I had doubts about the monitor, I don't know anything about monitors at all.

The e4300 is easier to overclock because it has a 200MHz FSB as opposed to the e6300's 266MHz, but the e6300 seems to be able to achieve higher clocks with less voltage compared to the e4300. Look here!

The e6420 looks promising.

The ATI x1950Pro is another good budget card, though IMO the 7900GS KO is better value.
April 4, 2007 12:14:22 AM

Well, there's cheaper ram of the same speed & size:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

The corsair is a bit pricey, IMO.

jeff_2087 is spot on about overclocking 6300 & 4300. There's a mod to make 4300's default 200mhz to 266. I wouldn't recommend it unless you're comfortable with it.

The bundled psu aren't very best. I'd get a cheap case & a psu separately. Rosewill(?) has a line of cases with 2 120mm fan mounts at newegg. As to PSU brand, Fortron is a good one.
April 4, 2007 12:18:37 AM

Thanks for the advice. I'll look into the ram you mentioned, and also search around for the case/psu. I'm not in any huge rush to build this pc, that's why I'm asking for advice and reading up on reviews and forums.

Everything else sounds good though?

Just upgrade to 6300 instead of 4300... and change from 7600gt to 7900gs, then switch ram, case and psu and I should be set...

Any other tips or advice welcome, and thanks much to those who've already posted.
April 4, 2007 12:27:12 AM

Well, though I own a C2D and mostly build C2D systems for friends, in this particular instance you are far better of going with a cheap dual core X2 AMD system and sink that money saved into better PSU and GPU. Seriously. It's more than enough to power a gaming rig, you frankly don't need the horsepower of a C2D. Because you specifically said no encoding, etc, etc.....otherwise I would recommend the Intel in a hearbeat. But not for what you describe.

Take a look at Sanji's Guide to Builds......the AMD setups in the $750 range, depending on your final budget, you can get alot if you consider the AMD route:

http://forumz.tomshardware.com/hardware/Sanji-Guide-Gam...

Go with cheap Value RAM. But get a good power supply or you'll end up regretting it later. 160 gig SATA hard drive, a basic motherboard, any optical....and a low-end X2 like a X2 3600 or X2 3800, and a kickA$$ graphics card. And you'll be rockin. OH, and Half Life 2? ASTOUNDING. ;) 
April 4, 2007 12:39:48 AM

Quote:
Well, though I own a C2D and mostly build C2D systems for friends, in this particular instance you are far better of going with a cheap dual core X2 AMD system and sink that money saved into better PSU and GPU. Seriously. It's more than enough to power a gaming rig, you frankly don't need the horsepower of a C2D. Because you specifically said no encoding, etc, etc.....otherwise I would recommend the Intel in a hearbeat. But not for what you describe.

Take a look at Sanji's Guide to Builds......the AMD setups in the $750 range, depending on your final budget, you can get alot if you consider the AMD route:

http://forumz.tomshardware.com/hardware/Sanji-Guide-Gam...

Go with cheap Value RAM. But get a good power supply or you'll end up regretting it later. 160 gig SATA hard drive, a basic motherboard, any optical....and a low-end X2 like a X2 3600 or X2 3800, and a kickA$$ graphics card. And you'll be rockin. OH, and Half Life 2? ASTOUNDING. ;) 


That Sanji computer sounds good... the 750$ AMD system sounds good, and I could still grab that 19" LCD from newegg for 170 and be right around 900-1000 range after tax/shipping etc.

What do you guys think? reading the Sanji guide to a 750$ AMD system and seeing what I've been working with here...

Also as far as gaming is concerned... how does RAID'ing affect game play?
I only really need 80-120 gb of space... (even that seems like alot). When I say only games... I mean ONLY game install files, and possible mods/maps that I download... I won't be downloading music, movies, or anything on it... I won't even be surfing the web... just playing games.

I think with that AMD system... for my needs if I went with a single hard drive + the ATI x1950 gpu... would be pretty good...

Ugh there's so many choices. I need more advice ^_^
April 4, 2007 12:46:27 AM

RAID will boost your game load times. Somewhat. 2 gigs RAM will make more of a difference. And since this is STRICTLY games-only install, then 2 hard drives will be a complete waste. And a single Raptor drive isn't in your budget. A 36 gig Raptor *might* be, but in all honesty, you won't notice much difference in overall load times. That money is better spent on a better graphics card.

Since this is a strictly gaming rig, it's ALL about the graphics card and 2 gigs of RAM. That's it in a nutshell. Pick any mobo, any optical, a decent PSU, any 2 gigs value RAM, a low end dual core AMD and a bitchin' graphics card. That'll fit your budget and will destroy those games.

Oh, and get an 8800GTS. Not much more money, and it'll cut through ANY game at 19" resolution. Hot knife through butter. And it'll last for quite awhile too. Save money on cheap RAM, cheap mobo, and just put that into the vid card bud, it's all about the horsepower for a pure gaming rig like you want. Don't bother with fancy stuff, just RAM and GPU. And a decent PSU to power that beast.

It's like a Dodge Viper......just a pedal, wheel, and an ENGINE!! ;) 
April 4, 2007 3:31:49 AM

Quote:
RAID will boost your game load times. Somewhat. 2 gigs RAM will make more of a difference. And since this is STRICTLY games-only install, then 2 hard drives will be a complete waste. And a single Raptor drive isn't in your budget. A 36 gig Raptor *might* be, but in all honesty, you won't notice much difference in overall load times. That money is better spent on a better graphics card.

Since this is a strictly gaming rig, it's ALL about the graphics card and 2 gigs of RAM. That's it in a nutshell. Pick any mobo, any optical, a decent PSU, any 2 gigs value RAM, a low end dual core AMD and a bitchin' graphics card. That'll fit your budget and will destroy those games.

Oh, and get an 8800GTS. Not much more money, and it'll cut through ANY game at 19" resolution. Hot knife through butter. And it'll last for quite awhile too. Save money on cheap RAM, cheap mobo, and just put that into the vid card bud, it's all about the horsepower for a pure gaming rig like you want. Don't bother with fancy stuff, just RAM and GPU. And a decent PSU to power that beast.

It's like a Dodge Viper......just a pedal, wheel, and an ENGINE!! ;) 


Reading that made me happy.

I think I've got it about figured out now... I'll do some more playing around and post a new spec sheet tomorrow.

What size psu would you recommend for this? 450? I really don't know values too well, and I don't want something ridiculously over powered (no pun intended)... but at the same time i want enough power to run everything without stressing the psu.

Thanks again, these comments have helped a TON.
April 4, 2007 3:42:36 AM

Well, for you the size/power of the PSU entirely depends on what graphics card you get. Seriously. It's not so much the wattage, but the amperage on the 12v rail(s) that are important. The more powerful the card, the more juice that has to flow to it. So sheer power isn't necessarily the answer.

For example, assume an 8800GTS. A PSU with 550w but only 24A on the 12v rail is not as good as a 480w PSU with 36A. You see?

So, now it really just comes down to budget. For a gaming rig, you need a decent PSU, no question. You can cheap out on mobo or RAM, but not the PSU. Gaming will stress your system hard, and you need clean, stable power, or else it could potentially take your system with it if the PSU craps out.

So:

1) what graphics card do you intend to get?
2) do you intend on upgrading the graphics card while keeping the same PSU?
3) what's your approximate budget range for PSU?

If you want something good, expect to pay $100. Here's one that won't break the bank but will handle pretty much anything you throw at it......is it overkill? Maybe, maybe not, depending on what you might upgrade in the future:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
April 4, 2007 4:20:20 AM

80gb hard drives don't give you the best Gigabytes for your dollar these days, look for something around the 300-400gb mark to get the most out of your money and you'll be glad you did once you use your first 80 gigs ;) 
April 4, 2007 11:32:37 AM

skyguy is jacking you into the matrix's training session for 10 hours straight. Let me play morpheus a bit.

In a few words, a gamer should spend on the money on parts that will give them the immediate gaming boost. Parts like a video card, ram & cpu. An home/office user should spend the money on a faster cpu, more ram, & faster &/ larger storage.

Regarding psu's, a generic psu usually shows off their maximum wattage output whereas a brand name psu gives you the CONTINUOUS wattage output. There are many psus that have more than enough wattage to power a modern gpu, but a power-hungry gpu needs additional power from the psu via a pci-e power cable. In this case, you find out to how many amps the video card needs & get a psu that meets/exceeds the amp requirement.
April 4, 2007 11:46:24 AM

I don't really know much about monitors in America, but over in the UK, Samsung do really decent quality monitors quite cheaply, so have at look at some of their monitors.
April 4, 2007 6:51:44 PM

Okay, so I've taken alot of the advice given, thought it out, and this is what I've come up with for parts:

Same Monitor // Case // PSU // GPU // CPU // MB // RAM // HDD

Someone asked about input devices... I'm not real picky when it comes to things like that... I'd probably use something like this for a keyboard, and something like this for a mouse.

As always, still open to suggestions on improvement or decrease in cost without decreasing performance. The games I'd like to play on this are listed above.

To be honest I don't care as much about ALL HIGH SETTINGS as most people do... nor am I overly worried about 1600 by whatever resolution. I just want fast, stable performance (and the rest of that can be a bonus).

One other question I had is if you guys think I should stick with my free windows xp student edition or if I should spring for the cost of Vista. Please list reasons why or why not.

Thanks in advance. And thanks so much to those who have already posted.
April 4, 2007 10:18:20 PM

I've heard of plenty of problems with Vista, so I'd wait at least until Service Pack 1 has been released before considering Vista.
April 4, 2007 10:33:27 PM

The motherboard you link to has integrated graphics. Probably not what you want. Also, the X2 3800+ is a little low ball for the gfx card you want to get. Don't want to be cpu bound in your gaming. If you get an AM2 socket motherboard, you might as well get an X2 5000+ since it's only $170 at newegg.
April 4, 2007 11:29:02 PM

Quote:
The motherboard you link to has integrated graphics. Probably not what you want. Also, the X2 3800+ is a little low ball for the gfx card you want to get. Don't want to be cpu bound in your gaming. If you get an AM2 socket motherboard, you might as well get an X2 5000+ since it's only $170 at newegg.


The only problem is, you say "only 170" when that's nearly twice the cost of the processor I had picked out. The only reason I wanted to go with a lower processor was because someone above had said to use, "any core 2 amd, any mobo, ram, and a nice graphics card" and I'd be fine...

I guess I'm not real sure what to do, but given what I want... what would be a better motherboard/cpu combo for around the same money? And will I need to get a separate heatsink for it if I intend to overclock?

Thanks.
April 5, 2007 7:31:06 AM

A separate heatsink is always advisable if you plan to overclock, especially if you want the processor to last and you don't want your system to be really noisy. I don't really know about AMD processor any more, so I couldn't suggest one. But it's not worth getting a cheap processor and spending all your money on the graphics card - CPU's tend to be the bottleneck in any system, so doing that would only worsen the bottleneck problem.
April 5, 2007 8:07:14 AM

About the Apevia xdreamer. To me the case is pretty solid and works fine. I only BIG problem in the led lights in the front. When on, the lights shine right into your eyes making it hard to focus on the monitor nearby. I actually disconnected them. It is a good case otherwise. As for the monitor, I would go for a samsung 206 bw. I have a 226bw and love it. It is a good series.
April 5, 2007 10:41:40 PM

Have to agree with what was said about cpu. It doesn't have to be great, but you don't want a kickass graphics card and have lousy game performance anyway because the cpu can't keep up.
A recent game like Supreme Commander really benefits from a decent dual core cpu.

If that price list linked above is true, the X2 4800 looks like nice bang for the buck ( 129 bucks!).

I'm putting together a new low budget system myself, but I think I'm going to hold off on buying the cpu and graphics card till last.

I thought I saw something somewhere that said there's a new wave of graphics cards ( Nvidia's 8600) coming this month? Maybe that'll push prices down a bit more in that area.
Decisions,decisions..
April 6, 2007 10:24:32 AM

I'm still waiting for ATI and AMD to bring something out to rival Intel and Nvidia too, as that should hopefully make things more affordable! The Intel price cuts coming into effect on April 22nd make a lot of the dual cores quite nice and affordable. In particular, the new E6420 looks good (same speed as the current E6400, but with 4MB cache)
!